Bathrooms: How Many Do We Need?

I am often asked my opinion on bathrooms. How many do we need? Where should they be? What are the absolute musts?

For any home over $500,000, I insist on the following:

  • Master Bath
  • Appropriate Number of Bedroom Baths
  • Powder Room on the Main Floor
  • At Least a Powder Room in a Finished Basement

For homes in this range, you want more bathrooms for the bedrooms. For a less expensive, home, more bedrooms can share one bathroom.

Ideal Master Bath

  • Must have two sinks. Preferably separated.
  • Daylight is essential.
  • Should have separate soaking tub (no whirlpool) and shower.
  • Toilet room.
  • Linen closet with at least a 24-inch swing door.

If there is not enough room for separate tub and shower, I recommend just a shower. The minimum shower size is 3-feet-by-five-feet. This is small in today’s standards and not conducive to double shower heads. I would specify larger if you have the space. Design your shower for regular daily use and then consider what special features you may want available.

Pay special attention to whether you want an open or closed shower. Many open showers are drafty and cool. Most people don’t mind this, but you need to make sure what you will be happy with long term.

The toilet is in it’s own room with door in 80% of my projects. Please make it large enough so it doesn’t feel like a coffin. A small window in here is nice. If you cannot spare the space for a separate room, there should at least be some offset or separation of the toilet from the vanities.

How Many Bedroom Bathrooms

Always have at least one tub for the bedrooms. The rest can be showers.

  • If you have 2 bedrooms, I recommend separate bathrooms for each.
  • If you have 3 bedrooms, 2 can share a Jack & Jill bath. One can have a separate bath that can be shared to the hall if needed.
  • If you have 4 bedrooms, 2 can share a Jack & Jill bath and two should each have their own.

I recommend individual linen closets in each bathroom, but full vanities and one hall linen closet can work well too.
Note: Jack & Jill baths work best with same sex children. They do not work for guests. If you are designing for an empty nest, I always recommend modest separate baths.

Powder Room

  • Every home must have a powder bathroom for guests to use.
  • It just needs a sink and a toilet.
  • If you have a pedestal sink, you need a linen closet inside the bathroom.
  • A window is nice, but not required.
  • Make sure it is large enough for you to step inside and close the door. Or swing the door out.
  • Minimum size for sink & toilet on one wall is 5’x6’.
  • Minimum size for toilet & sink facing each other is 6‘x3.5’.

If your powder room is near the mud room, be sure to put in a door between the two so you can close off the mud room when guests come over. PLEASE do not open this powder room directly to foyer, kitchen or dining room. Gross!

Finished Basement

  • At least a powder room.
  • If you have a bedroom in the basement, it is acceptable to use a hall bath to serve both the bedroom and guests.

Any other bathrooms you want are extras and will always impress. I recommend putting your money in the master bath and the first floor powder.

More Tips

  • Put a hand-held shower in a every shower. It’s handy and makes cleaning walls simple.
  • Radiant heating under hard surface floors makes even the coldest mornings cozy.
  • Build a niche in shower walls for shampoo bottles.
  • Tile the walls behind toilets. (Says a mom of three boys.)
  • Consider a urinal, bidet, or toto seat.
  • A pool bath is always nice located immediately inside the most accessible exterior door.
  • Design so that sight lines into the bath do not reveal the toilet.
  • Appliance garage in bathroom cabinets with power supply built in for hair dryer, curling iron and various rechargeables. No more cords laying around.
  • Install a retractable clothes line over one tub in the house.
  • Rough in for any future bathroom you may consider.


Hope this helps! Let me know what you think!

- Sheri

Lisa Saldivar